Teacher Training with a Twist: A Collaborative Project in North Carolina1


  • Nancy C. Rhodes,

    1. Center for Applied Linguistics
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      Nancy C. Rhodes(M.S., Georgetown University) is Associate Director of the English Language and Multicultural Education Division, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC.

  • Audrey L. Heining-Boynton

    1. University of North Carolina
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      Audrey L. Heining-Boynton (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is Associate Professor of Education and Romance Languages at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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    This project was funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), US. Department of Education, Grant # P116B90286-91 and the Strengthening Teacher Education Program Fund through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Teacher Education. Special thanks to Helene Scher, FlPSE Project Officer and lone Perry, Director of the State Division of Teacher Education, for their support throughout the project, and to L. Gerard Toussaint, Project Cc-Director, for making this project possible in North Carolina.


ABSTRACT  With the growing demand across the country for foreign language instruction in the elementary school, there is an urgent and increasing need for qualified teachers. One of the reasons for the current shortage of trained elementary school foreign language teachers is the serious shortage of qualified teacher educators.

This article describes a three-year teacher training project that aimed to improve the training of elementary school foreign language teachers at institutions of higher education. The components of the training model were based on the principle that, in order to be successful, teacher trainers should have experience observing and teaching at the level for which they will be training others.

The training model paired North Carolina teacher trainers with experienced elementary school teachers who served as their mentors. The teacher trainers participated in the following activities: 1) an intensive four-day seminar on elementary school foreign language methodology (also attended by their elementary school colleagues), 2) observations of their partners'elementary school language classes, 3) teaching of their partners'elementary school classes, 4) collaboration with the elementary school language teachers in the development of a teacher education curriculum, and 5) peer coaching with a new group of teacher trainers. These teacher educators were then responsible for incorporating the new material and methodologies into their universities' curricula and providing elementary school language instruction to undergraduate foreign language students preparing to become teachers.